If you're a movie buff, this is the best time of the year. This is the season when Hollywood unveils the big guns, the blockbusters, which they will hope will fill their coffers with money spent by the fans to ask up the best experience that their twenty dollars will buy-a plush seat on a Saturday night, a slam-bang two hours worth of loud explosions with pulse-pounding scenes that can make your jaw drop, all presented in IMAX glory. Yet for some reason, I'm not into that at all. But the one thing about the summer movies for me is the stories they present. I've always been attracted to the "lone hero"-the avenger who finds himself pursuing a calling out of some personal reason-loss, pain, angst, so much to the point that he/she actually finds himself becoming an anti-hero: questioning all they ever believed in, wondering what their future holds. I guess that's why I have always been attracted to reruns of "Knight Rider."
Although I was not born in the 1980s (officially 1978), I like to think of myself as forever trapped in the decade in terms of culture. I still listen to eighties music, and can recite the most popular lines from "Top Gun" and "The Breakfast Club." ("There are no points for second best."). And when I used to come home from my part-time job at the Milleridge Village at 5 p.m., as soon as my car pulled up at the house, I'd dart through the door, and turn on Channel 9, WWOR-TV. And as soon as I'd hear the words, "A shadowly flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist," I knew I was in my element. The voiceover, which was done by Richard Basehart, would go "Michael Knight. A young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless. In a world of criminals who operate above the law." The show was deemed, by creator Glen Larson, as "The Lone Ranger with a car, the soul of a western." It was also the show that launched David Hasselhoff's career. The main story was that Michael Long was an undercover detective in Las Vegas who was nearly fatally injured. A reclusive billionaire named Wilton Knight rescues him and gave him a new identity, Michael Knight, and he was working for the Foundation for Law & Government with a souped-up special car, that possessed technology way ahead of its time. And every week, Knight would came to the aid of a person trying to do good but facing enemies who did not want that person to succeed.
But despite the fact at the end of the episode that everything worked out, you always knew there was a sense of something missing from Knight's past. A feeling that no matter what happened, or how many times the show aired, he would never have what he really wanted. In the episode "White Bird," the theme rang true. Michael came to the rescue of an ex-fiancee whom he was scheduled to wed, but he became Michael Knight and never saw her again, until he realized she was about testify in a court case. All those romantic feelings came back, and he had to make a painful choice: one that most of us in that situation could never fathom.
For many years of my life, I was what you might see as a "Knight Rider." Traveling from table to table in the high school and college cafeterias, searching the Internet for message boards and web sites that I could post my thoughts about stuttering on, to no avail. But now, that has all changed. Ever since I got involved with the National Stuttering Association, I found my drive and my commitment. Maybe I'll never drive a car like KITT was. Or fly a helicopter like Airwolf.
But if they ever made my life story into a "Knight Rider" episode, maybe the voiceover will sound a little something like this:
"Steven Kaufman. An outspoken advocate and leader on a crusade to enlighten the world about stuttering awareness. Operating in a world where most people misunderstand, bringing the shining beacon of light through the darkness."
Just maybe, you can be your own version of "Knight Rider" too.
My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.